The Value of Wireframes in the Web Design Process

  • by Shala Graham
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During the website redesign process, projects often move from the discovery phase into beautiful artwork for a client to review. While on a simple, brochure-like website, this may be fine, but on a larger nonprofit website with specific or complex goals to achieve, developing wireframes may be necessary.

Wireframes are critical components of a successful information architecture. Like a blueprint for a house, a wireframe outlines the structure of a website, defining where major elements should be placed on a specified web page. Wireframes are typically void of color, images or any type of embellishment that could communicate design. This is done on purpose, so that the client can focus on the function of the website, instead of the form.

Wireframes typically address key website elements, such as logo placement, navigation, feature boxes, calls to action, footers, and the like. The goal is to understand what is required on a particular page of the website, such as a home page or an interior landing page, and what the hierarchy of those elements should be. Wireframes can also become interactive, grayscale prototypes, which demonstrate the core user experience for a website (i.e., if the user clicks on a link, they see in real time how they would be directed to a particular page, where they will see corresponding information).

Once the wireframe has been closely examined by the client, ensuring that all critical elements have been accounted for, and placement is acceptable, the designer can use this blueprint to create the actual design concepts, exploring different creative approaches that will work within the approved framework.

How have wireframes helped you in your website process? Do you have any questions about wireframes? Leave a comment below.